1. Plan life around farmer's market.
1a. Make menu on Tuesday night for Wed-Friday
1b. Make menu on Friday night for Saturday-Tuesday.
Obviously, I'm totally lucky to live in an area with two year-round weekly farmers markets! I know you can't all do this. It definitely makes it much easier to focus on local and seasonal eating when there are an abundance of choices all year round.
First, I usually pick out a cookbook or two (or a website if I am testing), and then I plan out which meals I will make for each night of the week - taking into account which are my teaching nights and which nights I'll have more time for cooking projects. I make up a special little list:
Wed., Kale Scramble (from Vegan Brunch, p XX).
and write all the ingredients under it.
I grab my giant, trusty bag (from India, $1!), a big handful of clean reused plastic bags, and head off to the farmers market - list in hand. (you can see my list peeping out there!) On Wednesdays I meet up with some of my vegan pals who I met on the PPK and we have weekly market dates. It's really special and awesome. They are all totally cool, free-wheelin' creative types who don't need to compulsively check their lists at the market - unlike me. I am balancing out the equation folks! Just doin' my job!
Here's a pretty typical haul from the farmers market. I try to get as much as possible from the farmers' market, and I definitely plan my menu around what's available at the market. After I'm done there, I go to the local natural foods store, where I can buy everything else - like beans and that kind of stuff. I almost never end up buying produce from the grocery store... unless I am really jonesing for an out-of-season mango or bell pepper. It does happen.
Being super organized about meal planning and shopping helps me feel like I'm not wasting food. I'm not great at spontaneous meal-creation in the kitchen, and usually my impulse purchase just linger in the cupboards. Also, this system helps me make my way through all my super cool cookbooks and the 1 million recipes out there in the world that I still want to try.
What's your system?